Passengers on grounded Arctic cruise ship to fly out: police
KUGAARUK, Nunavut — Dozens of passengers from an Arctic cruise ship that ran aground Friday morning were expected to be flown back south.
Cpl. Serge Yelle of the Kugaruuk detachment says he expected most of the passengers would be flown Saturday from the remote Arctic coastline community back to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.
“The first group of 80 to 90 persons will be flown out (Saturday) to Yellowknife,” he said.
The Akademic Ioffe, operated by One Ocean Expeditions tour company, ran aground in Pelly Bay about 70 kilometres north of Kugaruuk, on the Simpson Peninsula on Canada’s eastern Arctic coast.
The ship, a 117-metre ice-strengthened vessel that has made many Arctic cruises, has since been refloated.
“There is some damage to the vessel,” said Chris Krepski of the Transportation Safety Board.
The passengers were transferred to the Ioffe’s sister ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov.
“They picked up all the passengers this morning in search and rescue operations with the Canadian Coast Guard,” Yelle said.
The Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen is on the scene and the Radisson is on its way.
Yelle said a second group from the Ioffe were to spend the night on the Vavilov and will be flown south on Sunday.
One Ocean Expeditions said there had been no report of any environmental concerns.
The tour company, which has a mailing address in Squamish, B.C., said the captain had reported the incident to the relevant federal and territorial agencies.
Krepski said the board hasn’t yet decided whether it will send an investigation team to the scene.
“We’re following it closely for now,” he said.
On its website, the tour operator describes the Akademik Ioffe as a “modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened” vessel that can host 96 passengers and 65 staff and crew.
“We regret the inconvenience to our passengers and are working closely with the captain, ship owner and all relevant agencies to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible,” Catherine Lawton, general manager of One Ocean Expeditions, said in a statement.
Canada’s Arctic seas remain poorly charted.
In 2012, a 200-passenger ship ran aground in the Northwest Passage, although the weather was calm. Everyone was helped off safely.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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